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Cryptocurrency Is Just a Minor Threat to the State- CoinDesk

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Are cryptocurrencies a new form of money and, if so, do they threaten state power?

Our friend Nic Carter has recently commented on these questions in dialogue with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. We would like to add our perspective and thoughts on this, as we believe there is value to be derived from discussing these matters in depth. For better and worse, we believe that blockchains such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Handshake (in which I am involved) have features that make them a novel threat to the powers that states derive from currency issuance — but only a very marginal threat. This fairly mild conclusion flows from more controversial premises.

Steven McKie is a founding partner and managing director at Amentum Capital, developer on HandyMiner and HandyBrowser for Handshake and host of the BlockChannel podcast. A version of this article first appeared on Amentum’s blog.

The New York Fed writers name three kinds of money: fiat money, money with intrinsic or commodity value and claim-backed money. Without getting lost in the weeds, we think this overcomplicates things. All money that we can think of falls into two categories: either it has intrinsic value (like edible grains) or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then its value comes from the supposition that someone else values it.

This mysterious “someone else” might be totally unspecified, as when we suppose someone will pay us for gold; or it might include a specific party, such as a state, that promises to take the money in exchange for, e.g., discharging tax obligations. Bitcoin, like gold in the post-gold-standard era, falls into the former category. It has no intrinsic value and nobody in particular has promised to exchange anything for it. We just guess that someone will.

But we should not be surprised that the world’s most popular kinds of money are the ones that states explicitly promise to honor. For states, such promises are an extremely important instrument of their power. For example, by only accepting dollars as tax payment, the United States obliges its hundreds of millions of people to make sure they have dollars handy. Because of this, everyone in the world knows they can sell their dollars to someone (i.e., to U.S. residents). Moreover, everyone knows that by accumulating dollars they gain certain leverage over the United States. This situation enables the United States to print its own money and in so doing, project its power around the world.

The power to print money also gives states another kind of power: It enables them to maximize their productivity. By increasing the money supply, they can pull more people on the margins of the economy into the productive process. But this comes at the cost of the scarcity of money and, because it puts the newly minted money directly into the pockets of the less-powerful, tends to decrease the power of those who have already accumulated a lot of money. Hence, artificial constraints of the money supply, like the gold standard, are often associated with extremely conservative politics. Constraining the money supply hurts productivity, but it preserves social hierarchies.

This is where the more benign hopes of transcending nation-states mix with the darker fantasies of so-called bitcoin maximalists. On the one hand, a meaningful alternative to national currencies could allow people in abusive regimes not to rely on their governments’ worthless “promises.” On the other hand, a mechanistically fixed supply of money could put an unequal social hierarchy beyond the reach of democratic power, as the gold standard once did.

Read more: Trump’s Security Hawks Call Distributed Ledgers ‘Critical’ in US-China Tech Arms Race

Bitcoin, in this respect, is very much like gold. And like gold, it poses no active threat to state currencies or state power. For the value of state currencies – as described above – is predicated upon the actual, practical power of states. Throughout modern history, the preeminent reserve currency has been the coin of the world’s preeminent military power. Only if states lose their status as the main global powers are their currencies likely to follow suit.

Cryptocurrencies are only playing around the margins of this reality. Still, they can play an interesting role because they have features that prior non-state currencies did not. For example, they can facilitate coordination and communication between their holders. Imagine if all the holders of gold could, for example, vote on whether to mine more. Moreover, some cryptocurrencies have intrinsic value, such as ether (paying for the use of a distributed network), or HNS (paying for domain names on a decentralized registry).

Improved diplomacy through incentives

The ongoing improvements in global cooperation that happen in the bitcoin/crypto private sector derive from the many players that ensure a proof-of-work (PoW) system remains secure.

The intricacies that go into the production of hashrate, such as power and chipmaker pricing negotiation, manufacturing, international sales and marketing, mining pools and hashpower secondary markets. All are playing a piece in hardening relationships locally and internationally.

Therefore, a properly secured chain has then worked its way into regional regulations and labor, becoming a localized economic staple over time as it approaches scale. And, the second-order effects that come from that embedded chain of incentives include a public blockchain that is secure, not just technically but socially and politically. The most secure chains possessing such widespread economies of scale become powerful economic instruments of finance and political social progress (albeit slowly, but each new major public chain hastens this emergent process, thankfully).

In essence, though these systems may at first seem adversarial to state power by their very design, if you look more closely you’ll see they inherently (slowly) improve diplomacy via scalable trustless cooperation and international business over time.

To understand more on the “alchemy of PoW hashpower” and how it naturally derives incentives for international business cooperation, see this ongoing series from Anicca Research. The trustless systems we deploy globally have powerful consequences, and it’s important that we as an industry understand how to continually scale the positive aspects of decentralized monetary systems, without amplifying the negative effects such as centralized financial influence.

States are not wrong to be somewhat threatened by these hard-to-assess possibilities. If many people decide they would rather hold cryptocurrencies than state-backed currencies, it will diminish states’ abilities to project power through their coins.

Read more: The Crypto-Dollar Surge and the American Opportunity

But states still have the armies, the police and – on a good day anyway – democratic legitimacy. All of that still matters, and will for a long time.



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MicroStrategy Buys Additional 13,005 Bitcoin for $489 Million

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With the current BTC price, MicroStrategy’s total Bitcoin holding is worth more than $3.4 billion.

MicroStrategy Inc (NASDAQ: MSTR) has continued its Bitcoin acquisition spree as it has purchased another $489 million worth of BTC. As of the 21st of June, the Nasdaq-listed business intelligence company holds 105,085 Bitcoins.

The company announced its latest Bitcoin acquisition earlier today. According to the company, the newly acquired BTC totaled 13,005 at an average price of about $37,617, fees and expenses included. The purchase came after MicroStrategy generated $500 million in cash from the sale of debt to fund the purchase of BTC.

Before MicroStrategy purchased the most recent Bitcoin, the company had unveiled plans to buy Bitcoin in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the filing, MicroStrategy said it would be selling up to 1 billion of its class A common stock through an “Open Market Sale Agreement” with Jefferies LLC. The company added that proceeds from the stock sales would be used to buy more Bitcoin. MicroStrategy explained:

We intend to use the net proceeds from the sale of any Class A common stock offered under the prospectus for general corporate purposes, including the acquisition of bitcoin, unless otherwise indicated in the applicable prospectus supplement.

MicroStrategy Focuses on Bitcoin Acquisition

In addition, MicroStrategy has made Bitcoin acquisition a focus for the company. The company said that it mainly pursues two corporate strategies. Apart from growing its enterprise analytics software business, a major strategy for the company is to acquire and hold BTC.

In the SEC filing, the Nasdaq-listed company added that it is currently seeking opportunities to implement Bitcoin-related technologies like blockchain analytics into its software offerings. Also, the company intends to hold its Bitcoin holdings long-term and not engage in regular trading.

MicroStrategy became the first publicly-traded company to buy Bitcoin in August 2020. At the time, the company bought 21,454 BTC worth $250 million, making BTC its primary treasury reserve asset. When MicroStrategy made its initial Bitcoin purchase, BTC was trading at $11,653 per coin. This means that the price of Bitcoin has surged about 5 times since the first purchase.

After debuting into the crypto space in August last year, MicroStrategy had purchased more and held more than 90,000 BTCs before its latest acquisition, announced on the 21st of June.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin is hovering around $33,000. With the current BTC price, MicroStrategy’s total Bitcoin holding is worth more than $3.4 billion. According to MicroStrategy, its new subsidiary – MacroStrategy, manages about 92,079 BTC of its coins.

MSTR stock is currently at $595.79, a 7.64% decline over its previous close of $646.46. The company has grown nearly 403% in the last twelve months and 53.57% in its year-to-date record. In addition, MicroStrategy stock has gained more than 26% over the past month. However, MSTR has shed 17.65% over the past three months and has dropped 0.30% in the last five days.

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Ibukun is a crypto/finance writer interested in passing relevant information, using non-complex words to reach all kinds of audience. Apart from writing, she likes to see movies, cook, and explore restaurants in the city of Lagos, where she resides.



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Wise Fintech to Go Public via Direct Listing on London Stock Exchange

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In the future, Wise plans to roll out OwnWise, a client shareholder program that will allow its users to own a stake in the company.

British fintech Wise, formerly TransferWise, announced Thursday its plans to go public via a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The money transfer company said it had sufficient funding and therefore, did not require underwriters or issuing of new shares.

Wise will pioneer direct listing in London, a deal which will be finalized on July 5. Sources speculate the listing could value Wise at anywhere between $6-7 billion, up from its latest $5 billion valuations. This would also make it one of the biggest floats this year.

Founded in 2010, Wise has managed to accumulate 10 million customers who use its services to send £5 billion ($7 billion) every month. Its rivals include Western Union and MoneyGram in addition to startups like WorldRemit and Revolut.

Since 2017, Wise’s track record shows consistent profitability with a 54% annual growth rate. The latest 2021 fiscal year report shows it made £30.9 million in profits out of the £421 million ($589 million) sales revenue. This year, the company’s payments app registered £54.4 billion of international transfers for 6 million clients.

Wise Listing on LSE

Listing the giant company is a great accomplishment for London as it competes with “The Big Board”, New York Stock Exchange Group (NYSE), to attract more high growth and Blue-chip firms. As of 2020, the NYSE had 2800 company stocks and its market cap as of June, 2021 was $24.68 trillion. LSE, on the other hand, has listed over 1300 companies and its market cap is at 40.08 from today’s MarketWatch data.

To further this development, the British government is considering increasing leniency in firm enlisting guidelines to encourage issuing of dual-class shares. However, European stock markets have been hit with a lot of volatility this year, with at least two IPO cancellations in recent weeks.

The dual share structure is what Wise is opting for as it allows them to retain voting control while accommodating investors and customers into their shareholder base. At present, however, it locks them out of the lucrative Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) indices.

Nevertheless, the company intends to issue both class A and class B shares with the latter holding the privilege of 9 votes per share. The expiry for Class B shares is in the fifth year following Wise’s IPO. It is likely for concerns to arise over this structure as it may give executives excessive influence on shareholder votes.

In the future, Wise plans to roll out OwnWise, a client shareholder program that will allow its users to own a stake in the company. Financial endeavors for the company are advised by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citigroup.

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A financial analyst who sees positive income in both directions of the market (bulls & bears). Bitcoin is my crypto safe haven, free from government conspiracies.
Mythology is my mystery!
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.”



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JPMorgan Acquires Nutmeg Robo-Advisor, Furthering UK Retail Banking

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Before the deal, JPMorgan and Nutmeg had partnered late last year to offer clients an assortment of globally diversified exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) said Thursday it has closed a deal to purchase Nutmeg, an online investment management service, for an unnamed price. US biggest bank hopes the agreement, which awaits regulatory approval, will complement its launch of a standalone digital bank brand in the UK during the year.

Using the latest technology from Nutmeg will help boost JPMorgan’s retail and institutional push since the company aims at establishing as many branches as it can outside the US.

With over £3.5 billion (4.9 billion) worth of assets under management, the decade-old Nutmeg is one of the UK leading and award-winning robo-advisors. The company offers various investment accounts including Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), general investment, and pensions accounts.

Additionally, its competitors include Wealthsimple, Moneybox, and Moneyfarm. Before the take-over, Nutmeg had raised over $150 million in investments from Goldman Sachs and the British venture capital firm – Balderton Capital.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon stated last year that the banking giant would be “much more aggressive” in adding assets by conducting more acquisitions. The bank may also be stepping up to competition from adversary Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) which, in recent years, has spent $20 billion in merger agreements with E-trade and Eaton Vance.

Dimon also mentioned leveling up against blue-chip tech firm Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and other fintech firms such as PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL).

JPMorgan Stock Market and Nutmeg Acquisition

Before the deal, JPMorgan and Nutmeg had partnered late last year to offer clients an assortment of globally diversified exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This is not the first time the bank has partnered with a company then acquired it later. In October 2020, JPMorgan partnered with 55ip, a tax-smart fintech start-up, then bought it a couple of months down the line.

Differing regulatory guidelines in Europe and the UK made it necessary for JPMorgan to purchase the robo-advisor, rather than use investment technology available in the US. However, its US-based investment service You Invest is currently doing well, with assets valued at about $50 billion, as Dimon states.

JPMorgan’s tech initiative marks one among many happening in Britain’s retail banking sector. Banks such as Revolut, Starling, and Monzo manage digital-only checking accounts which have attracted a host of clients. Going by data from Innovate Finance, FinTechs in the UK probably make up the world’s largest markets, having pulled in $4.1 billion investment from venture capitalists as of last year.

JPMorgan Securities served as financial advisor in the JPMorgan-Nutmeg transaction, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted as legal counsel. Arma Partners was Nutmeg’s financial advisor and Taylor Wessing was legal counsel.

As of June 17, 2021, at 7:59 p.m. EDT, JPMorgan stock closed at $151.76, down 2.89%. In the after-hours session, it was trading at $151.48, down 0.18% in 24-hours.

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A financial analyst who sees positive income in both directions of the market (bulls & bears). Bitcoin is my crypto safe haven, free from government conspiracies.
Mythology is my mystery!
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.”



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